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Thomas and Friends History

Updated on July 15, 2013

How was Thomas the Tank Engine Born

Ever thought your imagination would become so popular? Reverend W. Awdry did not think the same. Back in 1917 the little boy, Rev living near a western railway station imagined that the engine sounds seemed as if the engines were talking to each other.

So did this lead to the creation of Thomas?

Well, this was the starting but the credit alone does not go to Rev. Many years later in 1940 Rev found himself passing his love for engines to his son Christopher Awdry. 3 years later in 1943 when Christopher, suffering from measles was confined to his bed – Rev amused him by modifying his stories of the talking engines. And the adventures of the 3 engines Edward, Gordon and Henry began. Christopher loved the stories so much that he began going into details and convinced his father to draw the engines on paper.

On the persistence of his wife Margaret, Rev offered his drawings to a publisher and his first book “The Three Railway Engines” was published in 1945.

Was one book enough?

After the release of his first book in 1945, for Christmas Rev made his son a simple wooden toy engine. The toy engine was named Thomas and this was how “Thomas the Tank Engine” was born. Christopher was still not satisfied and urged his father to make up stories about Thomas . Rev created a fictional setting for his stories “The Island Of Sodor” and published the a Thomas book every year until his 26th book.

The love for Thomas was passed across generations!

Christopher followed his father’s steps and kept these stories popular with his son Richard. The television series “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends” started in Britain in 1984 and became an instant hit with children. In 2000 Thomas became the first steam engine to star in his own movie “Thomas and the Magic Railroad”

With a rich and innovative history, Thomas today has countless games, Thomas & Friends toys, DVD’s, books, Thomas Land in Japan and UK and a brand new Thomas & Friends website delighting little Thomas fans.

Interesting Thomas & Friends Facts

(1) More than 30,000,000 Thomas & Friends Wooden engines have been sold in the US. You know what that means? 1 engine sold every 17 seconds for 15 years

(2) Since April 2008, more than 33,000 aspiring engineers (and counting!) have signed a petition to get Thomas inducted into the Toy Hall Of Fame…if we laid out each of the petition entries next to each other, that would equal nearly 2 miles of signatures. Woah!

(3) More than 21 million pieces of track have been sold in the US. If you laid out all these pieces of track, you could drive your Thomas Wooden Engine from Boston, Massachusetts to Chenenne, Wyoming.

(4) A 15-ton replica of Thomas train travels to more than 45 US Railroads yearly at Day Out With Thomas Events. This Thomas train has welcomed over 8.5 million passengers

(5) Over 55 million Thomas books have been sold in the US

(6) Thomas is the number 1 toy train brand in the US

Day Out With Thomas Event


Whistle 'N Go Thomas

The Whistle 'N Go Thomas is a popular Thomas toy train. The train moves at the blow of a whistle. Have a look at an interesting video that shows how the toy functions

Thomas & Friends | Zip, Zoom & Logging Adventure

Thomas & Friends Zip, Zoom and Logging Adventure is one of the best Thomas & Friends Train Set. The set is easy to assemble and is made of durable pieces.

What we really liked about this track set is the quality and the fact that there are a lot of activities to keep the kids occupied once assembled. This is unlike other train sets, which are usually boring once set up as there is nothing much kids can do besides just watch the train chug along.

Thomas & Friends Zip, Zoom & Logging Adventure

Another interesting Thomas and Friends video. Join Thomas in his new daring drop adventure!

Thomas and Friends | Daring Drop

Another addition in the Thomas & Friends family. Have fun with this Thomas & Friends video

Fisher Price | Thomas & Friends Take-n-Play Thomas' Shark Exhibit

Do you have a little Thomas & Friends fan at home?

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    • Toytasting profile imageAUTHOR

      Toy Tasting 

      5 years ago from Mumbai

      Agreed, thanks BristolBoy for stopping by :)

    • BristolBoy profile image


      5 years ago from Bristol

      The original Thomas TV show narrated by Ringo Starr has to be the best of all.

    • Toytasting profile imageAUTHOR

      Toy Tasting 

      5 years ago from Mumbai

      Rajan, I agree the journey for Thomas and Friends has been amazing and is still going strong. Glad you found it interesting. Cheers :)

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Dreams can come true and what an awesome journey it has been for Thomas and Friends.

      Amazing facts.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • Toytasting profile imageAUTHOR

      Toy Tasting 

      5 years ago from Mumbai

      Sunil, Thank you for stopping by. Have a great day:)

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      5 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      It is still my childrens' favorite one. Obviously for that reason, I too like it more. Thank you for sharing.

    • Toytasting profile imageAUTHOR

      Toy Tasting 

      5 years ago from Mumbai

      Thank you Pinto, glad you found the hub informative. Cheers!

    • pinto2011 profile image


      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very nice informative hub.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      What a great and delightful tale of the birth of Thomas the Tank. We love the tales in our house and have done for a few generations. Thanks so much.

      Voting and sharing.

      Great stuff.


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